App uninstall analytics reveal relationship between uninstalls and app rankings

By John Koetsier October 2, 2020

Installs, obviously, matter. Mobile marketers want to know how many app installs they’re getting at any given time. Perhaps less obviously, however, uninstalls matter too, and maybe even more. In fact, app uninstall analytics are critical for growth-focused marketers.

And not just because they can impact your App Store rankings and your Google Play placement.

At Singular, we are big believers in leveraging app uninstall analytics to understand the health and optimization opportunities for a mobile game or app. It starts, of course, with the fact that you don’t want to lose potential users or customers: people who aren’t in your app can’t watch ads, buy in-app purchases, order a meal, or buy a sofa. At least, not from you, in your app.

But there’s also the impact that a high uninstall rate can have on your cost of mobile user acquisition. (Hint, it goes up on a per-user basis.)

And of course, the impact that a high app uninstall rate has on rankings on Google Play and the Apple App Store. That’s something to take incredibly seriously, since it has an impact not just on the users you’ve already acquired, but also on future users that you hope to acquire organically. And it’s especially important right now, because we’ve already seen that Covid-19, Coronavirus, and lockdowns decrease user retention and increase app uninstalls.

App uninstall analytics: Uninstall impact

Look: I don’t have any “insider” insight into the Google Play or Apple App Store app ranking systems. The algorithms for both stores are private. But it’s pretty clear that uninstall rates are a factor in store rankings … and multiple other app marketing and analytics companies believe the same thing.

Of course, app store ranking is much more complex than simply showing which apps drive the most installs. Both Android’s Google Play and iPhone’s Apple App Store have a strong interest in ensuring that their customers get a mix of apps that they will get satisfaction from, so there are a lot of factors, including engagement, revenue, and ratings and reviews.

But app uninstall analytics can help you understand one component of those models.

app uninstall analytics

That’s particularly true right now, when we’ve seen that Covid-19 has actually been bad for mobile user retention and boosted uninstall rates. It’s also particularly true now that Apple has an on-platform option to remove unused apps from iPhones: Offload Unused Apps. On Android, you can get apps like Unused App Remover to accomplish the same thing.

It just makes sense that the app stores would track user uninstalls and app uninstall rates in order to assess the quality of an application. While star ratings and textual reviews provide some insights into app quality, so too does the number of people who stop using an app.

Why do people uninstall your mobile apps?

  1. App performance issues
    A recent survey of Android and iOS app users in the US and UK showed that two thirds of consumers say their expectations of app performance are increasing. Also, almost 9 in 10 had uninstalled an app because of poor performance. Uninstall tracking will reveal this in the number of people who uninstall immediately after a first launch.
  2. Unmet user expectations
    User expectations of app utility are quite high and continue to climb. In addition, if your app store listing promises something that your app doesn’t actually deliver … uninstalls will follow installs.
  3. Complex onboarding processes
    People expect using an app to be easy, including the initial sign-up or configuration period. Uninstall rates are higher when companies require a social sign-up or Sign In With Apple, or registering with their Google identity. Or, of course, if the amount of personal information requested during the initial launch seems too high. What constitutes too much information varies by user, but uninstalls tend to be higher when companies request information that does not appear to be needed for the core functions of your app. Today, privacy is a massive consumer concern: something you simply can’t violate or be perceived as violating.
  4. Better apps available
    Not shockingly, your app is constantly competing with other apps that can perform similar tasks and create similar value. If you’re not regularly updating it, people will find better options.
  5. App experience completed
    Many apps, especially in the gaming category, have a finite shelf life. When you finish every level of a game, or when an app performs a function that is no longer relevant … people uninstall your app.
  6. Phone space constraints
    Historically, many uninstalls occurred because people needed to free up storage on their phones for new content. That’s less of an issue with modern phones, but it’s worth considering your userbase. Are they primarily young? If so, they might have older or hand-me-down phones that don’t have as much space as the ones selling off the shelves today. And, of course, this can be a particularly major cause of uninstalls in the developing world, where device price points are comparatively higher in relationship to income, and phone storage sizes tend to be much smaller.

App uninstall analytics can help you understand both the timing and the geographic dimensions of your uninstall rates.

App quality matters for app rankings

Google is very clear that app quality will have a positive impact on store rankings.

From the Android Developer Blog:

A better app can go a very long way: a higher quality app will translate to higher user ratings, generally better rankings, more downloads, and higher retention (longer install periods). High-quality apps also have a much higher likelihood of getting some unanticipated positive publicity such as being featured in Android Market or social media buzz.

But it’s important to note that the impact of app uninstalls on ranking is related to when they occur in the customer life cycle, not just that they occur. In other words, an uninstall that occurs soon after a first launch weighs more heavily than an uninstall that occurs after many weeks or months.

Again, app uninstall analytics can provide an important tool for understanding the timing of your uninstalls.

Singular and app uninstall analytics

Singular unified analytics platform customers are primarily app marketing professionals. There are many ways that app marketers can reduce uninstall rates that uninstall tracking reveals. Our uninstall attribution measurement data points are designed to help marketers identify pockets of opportunity by showing the comparative app uninstall rates by campaign, creative, vendor, region, buying model and more.

A sound UA strategy ultimately means you will have more quality users, and may contribute to better app store rankings over time.

In the Singular platform, app uninstall analytics are calculated by dividing the number of uninstalls by the number of installs during a particular time period. You can use Singular’s many reports and custom report generating capabilities to compare uninstall rates by:

  • Channel: Mobile web versus mobile app advertising
  • Vendor: One network compared to another
  • Buying Model: Incentivized versus non-incentivized installs
  • Cohort: iPhone X versus 11 owners
  • Region: India versus Indonesia

In addition to daily measurement, Singular clients can conduct app uninstall analytics over any time period they wish. In addition, you can access uninstall data in almost every standard or customer report available in the Singular unified analytics platform.

App store ranking effects are not the most important consequences of a high (or low) uninstall rate. But growing users is an essential element of most app marketing programs. And anything that strengthens or weakens your ability to attract new users is something that warrants your continued attention.

Singular app uninstall analytics helps you …

  1. Boost UA user quality to grow ROI and LTV
    Use uninstall rates for the first hours and days after an install as an early indicator of which programs and partners will drive the best revenue, ARPU and ROI. Segment recent uninstalls for win-back campaigns and market research.
  2. Compare uninstall rates across any dimension
    Customize your mobile app uninstall analysis by partner, time period, region, creative, buying model or cohort. Get the critical user quality insights you need to optimize for maximum ROI. Measure performance against your unique KPIs.
  3. Take action with real-time notifications
    We offer a built-in email notification system to alert you when uninstalls exceed normal levels. Configure customizable uninstall alerts to deliver messages to partners and team members so they take immediate, corrective actions.

To learn more, contact us for a quick demo.

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